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Chapter 10: Pink Camellia

When Adam had heard that his little brother had dropped by with a date, he'd expected the usual pretty girl with a chest big enough to make Evan think he was in love. He wasn't even going to bother meeting his brother's new girlfriend, because he'd met enough of them to know what his brother's type was, and his brother's type wasn't very appealing to him. After what his waiter had said, though, he thought he might at least greet the couple, just to satisfy his own curiosity.

Adam had thought he was ready for just about anything his brother could throw at him. His current date, however, was completely unexpected.

"This is Sascha," his little brother introduced cheerfully. "Sascha, this is my older brother, Adam," and Sascha extended a hand for Adam to take, which he did after he'd gotten over his initial surprise.

"It's very nice to meet you," said Sascha. "You have a beautiful restaurant," and the words sounded so sincere that Adam was actually flattered.

"Thank you, it's nice to meet you as well. I'm glad to hear you're enjoying yourself," and Adam may have meant it more than he usually did when he spoke to his brother's dates because at least Sascha seemed like a decent person. She was, as his waiter had said, very pretty, but not in the usual way that caught his brother's eye. Sascha had a more genuine look, with soft features and a sense of style that didn't scream for attention.

Sascha was also mildly surprised at Evan's brother, because he didn't seem to be too much like the younger man. They definitely looked alike, both with blond hair, though Adam kept it short, most likely due to his job. Their eyes were the same warm hazel tone – though Adam's were hidden behind a pair of glasses - and their features were very similar, but Adam definitely looked the part of the responsible older brother. That wasn't to say that he looked to be too serious, he just lacked the usual playfulness that Evan had. He seemed to be a very nice person, and Sascha thought their first meeting went very well.

Evan, on the other hand, could hardly contain his amusement. It wasn't very hard to tell that his brother had only showed up out of curiosity, because Evan was very aware of how unlike his usual dates Sascha was. Of course, his brother would want to see why he had a sudden change of heart when it came to what he looked for in a date. He could see the way Adam was inspecting Sascha, trying to find a reason for Evan to be interested in him. And that was another source of amusement for Evan, because he was just waiting for the moment his brother would figure out Sascha was a man.

"So, brother dear, what will you be feeding us?" he asked, smirking at his older brother.

"That'll be a surprise," Adam responded, eyebrow quirked because he could tell his brother was up to something just by his tone and the way he was smirking. He narrowed his eyes in suspicion and turned to Sascha.

"Excuse us for a moment, but I'd like to have a word with Evan," he said, and Sascha just nodded, looking a bit puzzled. Evan didn't protest, instead just standing with a grin.

"I'll be back in a minute," he told his date, before following his brother to the kitchen. It was he place where they usually talked, since Adam considered it his main territory. Evan always teased him about it, but at least it was private enough since the other cooks were too busy to pay attention to them.

"Alright, what are you up to?" Adam questioned his brother, not wasting any time.

"What do you mean?" Evan answered, in a tone too innocent to be real.

"Alright, I'll be blunt," not that he wasn't always. "Your date isn't really what I was expecting from you, so enlighten me on your sudden change in taste," he said, but his brother just laughed.

"I thought you liked Sascha," Evan said, and he could tell his brother really did.

"I do, that's what worries me," his brother responded with a blank look.

"You know, that's really insulting," and the indignation in his voice wasn't quite strong enough to be convincing.

"Sure it is, but seriously, what's going on?" and since it didn't look like his brother was ever going to notice, Evan decided to just tell him.

"What can I say, he's just special," and then he waited.

He had to wait for a while, but he didn't mind because it was amusing enough to just watch his brother work out what he'd just said. First, his brow furrowed and he gave Evan an odd look.

"You said 'he'," Adam pointed out.


Evan watched his brother struggle with the concept, probably trying to figure out if he'd misheard and then working to process his little brother's words. Finally, he peered back out into the dining room at Sascha, who was still waiting for them patiently, before looking back at Evan.

"Seriously?" he asked, disbelief clear in his voice.

"Yes, seriously," Evan said, grinning. He tried not to laugh when his brother looked back at Sascha again, probably trying to see if his brother was just messing with him.

"I need new glasses," Adam said after a moment, and Evan snickered.

"Don't bother, you're not the first to have trouble figuring it out," Evan admitted. It was probably harder now that Sascha's hair was a bit longer, though still short enough that it didn't reach his shoulders. Still, Adam seemed to be taking the news rather well.

"So what, you're gay?" and he didn't sound as surprised as he was curious(and Evan would have to remember to find out why no one was as surprised as he thought they'd be to hear that).

Honestly, Evan hadn't really thought about that. He'd just gone with his feelings and decided that he liked Sascha. The idea of being gay hadn't really occurred to him, but when he really thought about it, he didn't think he was attracted to men. Or at least, he hadn't been attracted to any man other than Sascha, and women were as appealing as always.

"I don't think so," he told his brother. "Your bartender still looks pretty hot, and I'm pretty sure I can still appreciate a nice pair of boobs," Evan shrugged, causing his brother to roll his eyes.

"Alright, definitely not gay," Adam deadpanned. "Still doesn't make this any less weird, but at least he seems nice," he sighed.

"He is, he's a bit shy sometimes, and you have no idea how freaking hard it was to get him to agree to come here, but he's a nice guy," Evan said truthfully. "But if you want to know more about him you'll have to talk to him," he finished with a grin.

Adam usually would have said no, probably with the excuse of being busy, but he really was too curious for his own good. In the and, he agreed, and followed his brother back into the dining room. Sascha smiled at them as they returned, both brothers taking a seat at the table.

"Sorry about that, we were just doing some catching up," Evan said.

"Oh, that's okay," Sascha said, because they weren't really gone for long, and they seemed like they were busy enough that they didn't talk very often.

"So, how'd you two meet?" Adam asked, never one to waste time. Not to mention that he was really curious as to how his brother had ended up dating a man.

"Well, Evan just showed up at my shop one morning, and then he kept going back," Sascha said simply.

"What kind of shop do you have?"

"Sascha has a flower shop close to where I work," Evan answered his brother, and Adam gave him a questioning look.

"Why were you even buying flowers?" he asked, already suspecting what the answer could be.

"Because I'm a nice person who likes to give his co-workers something to brighten their day," and if Sascha notice Evan narrowing his eyes in warning at his brother, he didn't say anything. Adam didn't look convinced, but he let it go.

"Of course," he said, trying to not let sarcasm leak into his tone.

"So how long have you been d-," and Adam couldn't finish his sentence because someone decided to stomp on his foot and he had to try very hard not to cry out in pain and punch his brother for fear of upsetting his customers.

"You know, I'm starving, and I'm sure Sascha's hungry as well. Why don't you show him how good your food is?" Evan said, glaring at his brother, and Adam glared right back.

"Of course, how thoughtless of me, I'll have your food right out," he ground out, foot still aching.

"Please enjoy your evening," he said to Sascha, who just nodded, a bit confused, and watched the older man leave.

"So, what do you think of my brother?" Evan asked once Adam was gone.

"Oh, he's very nice," Sascha said, not sure how else to answer because Adam had been giving him odd looks, but he'd been very polite.

"I told you he was a good guy. He likes you, you know?" Evan commented, his grin widening a bit when he saw Sascha blush. He could tell the other was pleased though, because there was a small smile on his face.

Their food arrived not long after, and true to Evan's word, his brother could cook. The evening, in general, was going pretty well, better than Evan had hoped, actually. It was probably because he was on his best behavior. He wasn't stupid, he knew that it was his chance to show Sascha he wasn't a bad guy, and he wasn't going to waste it. So he made sure the florist felt comfortable and had fun, staying on safe topics of conversation. They talked about the food, Evan's brother, the flower shop, Evan's work and for a brief moment, Jason and the boy's attachment to Sascha.

"I swear I've never seen him being so nice to anyone but his own family," Evan said, sounding impressed. Sascha just laughed, in a much better mood than he had been at the start of the evening.

"I'm sure he's not that bad," he said, because Jason really had been nice to him for the whole time he had worked for him. "He's a really sweet boy, just a bit rough, but he's a teenager so maybe that's why," Sascha said with a shrug.

"So he never picks on you or anything?" Evan asked, thinking it was odd. After all, Jason picked on everyone. He wasn't at all surprised when Sascha's cheeks turned pink and he looked away after setting down his drink.

"Well, I guess sometimes," he admitted. "It's just, he thinks my name's a bit too feminine," Sascha said.

That didn't come as a surprise to Evan, because Jason had commented on that repeatedly in front of him. He just hadn't known he'd mentioned it to Sascha as well.

"Don't listen to him, he just likes to mess with people," Evan told Sascha, making a note to talk to Jason about it, but Sascha shook his head.

"No, he's right, my name's too girly," Sascha said, cheeks still tinged with color. "I've been thinking of using my middle name," he told Evan.

"Really? What's your middle name?" Evan couldn't help but ask.

"James," Sascha answered shortly, taking another sip of his wine.

Somehow, and Sascha didn't really know how he'd done it, Evan had convinced the florist to try some of the wine his brother had sent out for them(and Evan would thank him for the help later). Sascha had done his best to resist, but Evan had gotten his way in the end. He had tried not to drink too much though, because Sascha had never been particularly good at holding any amount of liquor. He had to admit though, it was really good wine.

Evan frowned a bit at the thought of Sascha changing his name. It wasn't that James was a bad name, he just didn't think it was right for the florist.

"I think Sascha suits you better," he said honestly his hand brushing Sascha's on the table. And then Sacha giggled.

Which was weird enough to make Evan look carefully at the florist because Sascha never giggled. He laughed, chuckled and once or twice he'd actually snorted(something Evan found pretty funny), but he never outright giggled.

"You're sweet," said the florist, patting Evan's hand. And Evan finally noticed that Sascha's cheeks were still pink and he didn't think it was because he was feeling shy. He eyed the florists nearly empty wine glass, a sinking feeling starting to emerge.

"Sascha, how much wine have you had?" he asked, fearing the answer.

"Just a bit," said the florist casually, holding his thumb and index finger less than half an inch apart.

"Okay, how many glasses?" Evan tried again and Sascha took on a thoughtful look.

"Hmm, well, I had one," he said, and Evan started to calm down because one wasn't too bad. It just meant Sascha was terrible at holding his liquor, but he would be fine.

"And then I had another when you went to the restroom," Sascha went on, and Evan felt himself start to worry again, because he remembered Sascha telling him he didn't drink.

"And then that nice waiter refilled my glass before you came back," the florist finished with a smile.

Evan tried very hard not to panic, because three glasses were probably more than enough for Sascha to cross the 'tipsy' line into 'drunk' territory, because even he would feel something after that(and he had plenty of practice after all his visits to the bar with Drew).

"Okay, time to go home," he said, standing and helping Sascha out of his seat and into his jacket, after asking a passing waiter for the check.

"Why?" he said, dragging out the word. "It's so early," Sascha complained, as he was lead out of the restaurant and back to Evan's car.

"You have work tomorrow, remember?" Evan pointed out, helping the florist into the car and making sure his seatbelt was buckled.

"I'll take the day off," Sascha said with a grin, and Evan hurried into the car and headed straight to Sascha's place.

"You still need to rest," Evan insisted, ignoring Sascha's pouting face. The florist sighed and let his head hit the window with a dull 'thud'.

"Don't want to rest," Sascha muttered, but not five minutes later he had dozed off, much to Evan's relief. Unfortunately, that didn't really do anything, because Sascha was just as drunk when the car stopped and Evan helped him out of the car. If anything, Sascha looked worse, maybe because the wine was finally hitting him hard(and if Evan really thought about it, Sascha had drank plenty in a very short amount of time).

He was leaning heavily on Evan by the time they were inside and climbing the stairs wasn't easy at all. Evan was very glad when they finally reached Sascha's apartment, because the other man was clinging to him, his arms wrapped around Evan and it was very hard to concentrate on staying upright.

"Okay Sascha, where are your keys?" he asked, hoping to get an answer.

"In m' pocket," Sascha answered, voice slurred. With a sigh, Evan reached into the florist's jacket, feeling for the keys, while Sascha laughed.

"M' pants pocket," Sascha said, and Evan nearly groaned. Hesitantly, he reached into Sascha's pocket, trying not to think about where exactly his hand was, even as his other hand was keeping a tight hold of the florist's waist to keep him from falling over. Relieved, he pulled out the keys and quickly opened the door, nudging it closed with his foot after entering.

"Alright Sascha, time for you to sleep," he said, leading the man to what he guessed was his bedroom. He was relieved when he turned out to be right, and helped Sascha out of his jacket. It was a bit of a challenge, but he managed to get it off even with Sascha giggling and leaning on him.

"Don' wanna sleep," he said, his arms wrapping around Evan's neck. "You're handsome," he told the man, cheeks flushed and eyes half lidded and Evan gulped and moved his hands to Sascha's shoulders.

"And you're very pretty, but it's time for you to get to bed," he said.

"Mhmm, let's," and Evan did his best not to have a panic attack when Sascha leaned closer and planted his lips right over his. His brain stopped working for a moment and his hands were gripping Sascha's shoulders tightly, even as he struggled with what to do, because Sascha was kissing him and it felt damn good.

But he knew it was wrong, it was just a matter of getting his brain and his body to work together because his hands were evil little bastards with minds of their own. At the moment they were back to resting on Sascha's waist and his lips were moving against the florist's. He could feel soft hands on his neck, running through his hair and Sascha's warm body pressing against his own.

"Sascha, stop," he managed to say once his higher brain functions had kicked in. But Sascha wasn't listening because he just pulled him back down for another kiss and things were getting very bad for Evan because somehow, Sascha had worked his jacket off and the coat fell to the floor with a dull sound.

'Holy mother of God!' and Sascha's hand was working to unbutton his shirt and Evan was in full panic mode because it felt too good, but he knew he had to stop. So he pushed Sascha off, as gently as he could, and kept his hands firmly on his shoulders.

"Okay, time to stop," he managed to gasp out, and he could feel his face burning. Sascha didn't seem too happy about it though, because he frowned, hands still grasping Evan's shirt.

"Why?" he drawled out, brow furrowed and the tips of his mouth turned downwards.

"Because we shouldn't be doing this and you need to sleep," Evan said, trying to get his heart to calm down.

"But I like you," Sascha complained, pulling Evan closer. "It's 'cause I'm mean to you," he said, still looking upset.

"What?" Evan really didn't know what else to say to that, maybe it was because his brain still wasn't working too well and his blood was still slowly returning to his head.

"I'm mean, an' you think I don' like you," Sascha continued, and Evan looked at him curiously. He realized that Sascha was talking about the way he kept rejecting Evan.

"Do you like me then?" he asked, hoping he'd get an answer from the man. Sure enough, Sascha nodded.

"Uh huh," he said, trying to pull Evan closer. "Lots," Sascha muttered, finally succeeding in getting his arms back around Evan's neck, where they continued to play with the man's hair. Evan did his best to ignore the feeling of Sascha's hands on his neck as he looked down at the man's face.

"Then why are you mean to me?" he asked, taking advantage of Sascha's temporary honesty.

"'Cause I don' date straight men," Sascha said with as serious a tone and expression as he could manage under his current state. "They're the wors'," he muttered, and Evan knew he was saying that because of what had happened to him with Steven. It still bothered Evan to think of Sascha comparing him to Steven, but it wasn't the time to discuss that with him.

"They always end up choosing a woman," Sascha continued, and Evan was horrified to see his eyes watering. "An' it hurts," the sight of tears terrified Evan, he'd never been good with crying people and it was probably worse to see Sascha cry because he actually cared about him.

So he let the florist lean on him, his arms wrapping around Sascha's slender frame and rubbing his back as the florist cried. He could feel his shirt getting wet, but he didn't really care all that much. Evan just wished Sascha would stop crying(he also wished he hadn't let Sascha touch the wine, but it was a little late for that).

"You know I don't want to hurt you, Sascha," Evan said, still holding the man. He felt him nod and heard him sniffle a bit.

"But 'm scared," Sascha slurred, voice muffled. Evan sighed and patted his back, moving closer to the bed and doing his best to get Sascha to settle onto it because he really needed to get him to sleep(he already felt sorry for what the man would go through the next morning, Sascha would need the rest). Unfortunately, Sascha refused to let him go, clinging onto Evan even after he was laying on the bed.

"Sascha, let go, you need to sleep," Evan said, trying to pull Sascha's hands off.

"Nooo," Sascha whined, pulling Evan closer. "Stay," he muttered, and his lips were moving against Evan's as he spoke.

Evan nearly groaned when he was pulled into another kiss, because Sascha's lips were soft and sweet and warm against his and it was very hard to resist him. His hand settled on Sascha's waist and he could feel his smooth skin as the florist's shirt rose a bit. It was hard enough for Evan to keep from running his hand over Sascha's body and he was fighting to get off of him. Somehow, he managed to pull away, gasping for breath, his body hot and the feeling of Sascha's hands and lips all too clear. He was painfully aware of how tight his pants were and the sight of Sascha laying under him, face flushed and arms reaching for him, wasn't helping.

He sighed and sat back on the edge of the bed, running his hand over his face. Evan felt Sascha moving behind him and tried not to move when he felt the other's arms around him, his face resting on top of his shoulder. As much as Evan wanted to be with Sascha, he didn't want it to happen because Sascha was drunk. Evan was aware that it wasn't the Sascha he knew holding him, the sweet florist he'd fallen for would never be so forward.

"Love you," Sascha muttered, lips brushing Evan's neck, and the man wanted to slam his head on a wall because it would figure that the moment Sascha admitted his feelings for him, asking him to stay with him, it would be the one time Evan couldn't do anything about it. He sighed and grabbed Sascha's hand, turning to look at the man and wrapping an arm around him to pull him closer.

"Love you too," he said, kissing his forehead.

Sascha giggled happily and held onto Evan, humming in contentment while the other man just sighed tiredly. It wasn't long before Sascha finally fell asleep, his breathing slowing and his hold on Evan weakening enough for the man to slip away and get Sascha settled in bed. Sascha didn't wake up, and Evan decided it was time to leave. He didn't know if Sascha would remember anything the next day, but a part of him hoped he didn't.

The night felt colder as he stepped out of the apartment building, the wind painfully chilly against his skin, still hot from Sascha's touch. But Evan would still have the memory of the florist's lips and his warm hands holding him close. Maybe it would be a while until he would feel them again, and the longing for it to happen would be torturous, but Evan would just make the best of things. At the very least, he now had some hope and the knowledge that his feelings were reciprocated, and that was enough to keep him from giving up.

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